Wednesday, July 9, 2008

End animal cruelty that produces snack for elite

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California and more than a dozen countries have banned its production, and now Takoma Park City Council has condemned it.

It is foie gras, a heavy cracker spread consumed by elite foodies. Foie gras, French for ‘‘fatty liver,” is the deliberately diseased liver of a factory-farmed duck or goose, and we should be proud that our City Council has taken a stand against it.

Foie gras is one of the most abusive factory farm products, since workers force-feed birds an unnatural amount of food multiple times each day — often causing painful bruising, lacerations, sores and organ rupture. It destroys the ducks’ livers, killing some of the animals and leaving many others near death from blood toxicity, nerve damage, suffocation and other complications.

Of course, most people probably don’t want to eat any part of a diseased animal, yet in the case of foie gras, it’s the diseased organ itself that diners consume.

Forcing animals to endure such cruelty for something as trivial as a snack is shameful. Common decency requires that we put an end to this abuse of our power over animals who are so utterly at our mercy. I’m proud to live in a city whose council takes animal cruelty seriously and provides leadership on important animal welfare issues such as this one.

Anyone concerned about reducing the level of suffering we cause to animals would be wise to leave foie gras off our plates.

Paul Shapiro, Takoma Park

The writer is the senior director of the Humane Society of the United States’ factory farming campaign.

Open forum: For additional letters on this issue, go to⁄speakout.